Back to School time is upon us and for our youngest learners, a well-planned transition will get them off on the right start. Transitions can help build the bridge from one stage of a child’s education to the next, and caregivers who work together in this hand off have the most success.
Transition Strategies For Caregivers
Plan an open house at your center or classroom a few days before school starts, inviting parents and children to visit together. If there are classroom supplies that families are to provide, this is a great time for them to bring them to lessen the load on the first day.
Consider sending an at home activity that families can do with their child and bring to the open house. Another option is to plan a parent/child activity at the open house such as a classroom or building scavenger hunt to help the child to feel more comfortable in their new surroundings and to know where to locate supplies and other areas such as the restroom, lunch room, gymnasium, nurse’s office, and school office. Be sure to invite school personnel to participate in this by greeting families at their station. Perhaps you could have something for the child to collect at each destination on the map, ending up back at the classroom to get their family photo taken by the teacher. This also gives the parent an opportunity to meet other building staff.
Children will feel a sense of belonging if they can see their name on their own coat hook or cubby. For elementary school children, they might put items in their desk. Later you can use the photos from the open house for a bulletin board to welcome the children. This is also a great time to discuss how you will communicate daily/weekly with parents regarding classroom information.
Transition Tools For Parents
Families also play an important role in smooth transitions to school. If you have the time, take each child individually to shop for their school supplies. One-on-one time, especially in a household of siblings can be a special way to ease you both into the new routines. If it is your child’s first day of pre-school, you may have many emotions as you separate from your child too.
Parents can help their child by establishing practical bedtime routines several weeks before school. Think about packing lunches, selecting clothes and setting out items you’ll need the night before. This will make morning routines go so much smoother. You may find these tips for easy transitions from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) helpful as you prepare your family for back to school.
What back to school transition ideas have you had success with?
Lynn DeVries, Extension Educator | The Learning Child
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